Hayley at The Lost Ogle of Oklahoma writes—Great News! Oklahoma is Failing at a Slower Rate Than Expected!
The only time it is appropriate to be proud of being “Down in a Hole” is if you are three Lime-A-Ritas deep into an Alice in Chains song on karaoke night at Lumpy’s Sports Bar. It is not appropriate to take pride in being down in a hole if that hole is a state’s budget and you are a lawmaker in charge of said budget.
Gov. Mary Fallin expects to sign the Legislature’s bill cutting state agencies for the end of Fiscal Year 2018, and she and the Oklahoma Board of Equalization certified today that the state faces a $167.8 million revenue hole for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
“It’s not as big as what we anticipated, but we also have a large amount of obligations that are due now that are things we’ve already committed to pay for in previous legislation,” Fallin said to reporters after Tuesday’s meeting. “You’ll see that our growth is getting better as an economy, but it’s still slow.”
Progress, eh? When I’m not busy making dick jokes in my TLO articles, I moonlight as a therapist. I have to remind my clients that sometimes it is important to celebrate small victories. It motivates us to do more and really gets our productivity ball rolling. However, I would be quicker to celebrate someone using a new coping skill than a group of lawmakers only being $167 million in the hole compared to the original $270 million. I’d also be quicker to celebrate it if my job wasn’t in danger due to that hole not being filled…
Anna Bernoulli at Dick and Sharon’s LA Progressive writes—The Kids Are All Right: The Revolution Will Be Televised:
It’s still a mess out there. Trump’s photo-op with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors went just as one would expect (I say photo-op because it can’t really be called a visit, can it? That would imply some meaningful interaction) and the comments section on my previous post clearly shows that a lot of people in this country would rather cling to their guns than keep our citizens safer.
My husband and I watched these things happening over the weekend, and shook our heads. He asked me, in his very British way, “Why are so many Americans like this?”
I honestly didn’t know what to say, because even though I’ve been American all my life, and love a lot of things about this country, I don’t get it either. A lot of us don’t.
It is so easy to feel like we’re just beating our heads against a wall trying to talk empathy and common sense into people who are set against understanding things like that. Amid all this, however, I have hope, and lots of it.
People, have you seen the Parkland students?! They are all over Twitter, calling out these politicians and pundits by name, replying to their tweets and platitudes, calling BS on their thoughts, prayers, and refusal to act. […]
They’re telling us that yes, this is the time, this is the place, and it absolutely is political. They are right, and their words matter.
AZ BlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona writes—Code Red: dereliction of duty by a ‘criminally incompetent’ commander-in-chief:
After a weekend of our always insecure egomaniacal man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief Trump lashing out over Russia probe in an angry and error-laden tweetstorm, a remarkable series of opinions appeared in newspapers on Monday.
Max Boot wrote at the Washington Post, Trump is ignoring the worst attack on America since 9/11:
Imagine if, after 9/11, the president had said that the World Trade Center and Pentagon could have been attacked by “China” or “lots of other people.” Imagine if he had dismissed claims of al-Qaeda’s responsibility as a “hoax” and said that he “really” believed Osama bin Laden’s denials. Imagine if he saw the attack primarily as a political embarrassment to be minimized rather than as a national security threat to be combated. Imagine if he threatened to fire the investigators trying to find out what happened. […]
The Russian subversion of the 2016 election did not, to be sure, kill nearly 3,000 people. But its longer-term impact may be even more corrosive by undermining faith in our democracy.
The evidence of Russian meddling became “incontrovertible,” in the word of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations on Friday for taking part in this operation.
Schafer Sirmer at Better Georgia writes—As new bill loses its bite, Georgia Power is let off the hook for Plant Vogtle again:
A bill from Sen. Chuck Hufstetler that would have finally slammed Georgia Power with the consequences of its Plant Vogtle disaster suddenly lost its bite in the Georgia Legislature last Thursday.
The provisions that would hold Georgia Power accountable for Plant Vogtle were slashed from the bill.
The Regulated Industries and Utilities committee unanimously passed the new legislation — easy to do once the most critical part of the bill had been stripped away.
The nuclear power plant was supposed to be completed years ago and is billions of dollars over budget. A bill passed in 2009 has allowed Georgia Power to pass on those charges to consumers — meaning anyone that uses Georgia Power has footed the monstrous bill for Plant Vogtle.
In fact, Georgia Power’s customers have paid about $2 billion toward the nuclear project from their monthly utility bills.
Hufstetler’s original proposal would have finally put a limit on this running tab, but suddenly the language around Plant Vogtle was removed.
At FortBoise of Idaho, Tom von Alten writes—Range war redux:
Rep. Rob Bishop is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, giving him, as he puts it, “a responsibility to conduct oversight of Department of the Interior and its nine constituent bureaus that are responsible for protecting our national parks and natural resources, managing federal lands, producing impactful [sic] research and carrying out various activities to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to Native American tribes.”
As a good old boy from Utah’s 1st district, now in his eighth term in Congress (after 16 years in Utah’s House, and a respite from politics to teach high school), he’s so far under the radar that his Wikipedia page hasn’t been updated with his 2016 re-election. But it does tell us that he co-founded the Western States Coalition and the Tenth Amendment Task Force, and is a member of the Second Amendment Task Force, Congressional Lupus Caucus, House GOP Policy Committee, Tea Party Caucus, and the Republican Study Committee.
A 38-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rebutted Rep. Bishop in the Deseret News.
And Ed Ruth, known to me only by his response to Peter Walker’s thread on Facebook in this regard said this (with my emphasis added):
“Nothing could be further from the truth. As a uniformed, field level employee of the Department of Interior for 28 years, I was given great latitude to negotiate issues, solve problems, and even implement new approaches to accommodate lawful uses and resolve unlawful conduct. In uniform for 28 years, I spoke to many thousands of people. The vast majority really, really enjoyed their experience on NPS and BLM land. […]
“These agencies do everything within the law to transfer decision making to the local level. These lands belong to you. Please help protect them from theft! As with all thefts, the crime begins with a lie to self and/or others. Sad really. A grown man too. I assume. Probably not very mature though. Quote me.”
Montana Hat at Montana Cowgirl writes—Steve Daines and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day:
For the first time in months, Steve Daines dared to show his face in Montana. Daines advertised his meetings as “Meet with local officials, community leaders and constituents” at some local breweries. But things did not go as planned for Daines, or rather they went too well. Daines managed to host his meetings way ahead of schedule ensuring anyone who wasn’t in on the gambit would not be able to speak with the junior senator.
As Montana Public Radio reported:
Daines office issued a press release Tuesday saying the senator would appear at Missoula’s Big Sky Brewing Wednesday to discuss how last year’s tax reform legislation has benefited the business. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., but the senator was out the back door before the start time.
How convenient! It seems like in between touring breweries Daines cannot find the time to meet with his constituents. This dereliction of duty is familiar to most Montanans but to be so bold as to schedule fake events and try to get credit for it is a new low for the anchor of political courage that is Steve Daines.
Yellowstone Public Radio was able to ask Daines directly about his lack of intestinal fortitude, political cowardice, or just fear of meeting with a non-hand picked, pre-screened group of Montanans (his bosses).
And here is what Daines had to say for himself:
The town hall that you hear about is, we, are coming primarily with some of the resistance movements, frankly from the pretty far left folks in the state that’s who is making the loudest noise.
Callista Kline at (state of) Washington Liberals writes—Common sense on guns:
My brother’s response to my mom’s email about the recent shooting. I want to share, particularly because of the way he explains things. As a veteran and a gun owner, he knows much more about guns than I do. Hopefully his arguments and information can help any of my friends trying to sway people on gun control laws.
“Completely agree with the sentiment here, Mom. However, in order to make educated arguments for gun control, it’s important to actually know what you’re proposing and use the right language. Otherwise, you’ll just get completely shut down as “not knowing anything about guns” to people you’re trying to convince. And if you don’t know anything about guns, you can’t really advocate for responsible gun policy.
AR15s are not the problem alone. Yes, it’s the most popular military-style rifle, and it is designed to kill people effectively. But banning one model of weapon will just make people switch to other, equally effective killing machines. If you banned the Toyota Camry, would people stop buying midsize sedans? No, you’d just end up with more Honda Accords on the road. If you want to fix the problem, you have to ban all semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic means the weapon is loaded with a magazine (or belt in some cases) with multiple rounds; and for every trigger squeeze, one bullet is discharged. There is no real need for these weapons in civilian use. They aren’t necessary for hunting, where the point is to kill the animal with one shot. It is only useful for killing a lot of things in a short amount of time or having fun at a gun range. I think our children’s lives are more important than a fraction of the population’s fun shooting a bunch of rounds quickly at a range. They’ll cope. […]
Handguns are far more responsible for gun deaths in America than semi-auto rifles. You mentioned the kid who brought a gun to school as only having a “handgun, not a semi-automatic.” Well, almost all handguns are semi-automatic. They have magazines and one bullet per trigger squeeze. Though most handgun rounds aren’t as deadly as rifle rounds, it’s inconsequential at short range. And handguns are far easier to conceal than a rifle. With the exception of maybe revolvers (which have 5-6 round max before reloading), I believe handguns should be outlawed. The Virginia Tech massacre, the most deadly school shooting in American history, was accomplished with handguns only. Don’t underestimate their lethality. I think military style rifles only account for about 2% of gun deaths each year. If you want to solve the problem, semi-auto handguns have to go, as well.
John Peterson at DemoCurmudgeon of Wisconsin writes—After Florida’s Mass Shooting, High School Students Repulsed by Republican Reaction!!!
Maybe the mass shooting issue will finally focus the nations attention on just how inhumane the Republican Party has become, and how sold out it is to NRA business interests. Hell, what percentage of the economy is dependent on firearms manufacturing anyway?
One irony: Republicans who pushed that mindless “civics test” to graduate, who also didn’t know ours schools already have detailed U.S. history courses, may be getting activist teenage blow-back from a very educated electorate. How about that!
Less than a week after a shooter killed 17 people at a school in Florida, the state’s House of Representatives voted not to discuss a ban on assault weapons after earlier declaring pornography a health risk, angering people on social media.
A staffer at Colorado Pols writes—The NRA is Losing Control:
Firearm advocates are having a difficult time defending their positions in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. High school students in Florida are organizing themselves, and inspiring others, to push their elected officials to enact stronger gun regulations. Diehard gun rights supporters such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and even President Trump are striking a different tone as a result.
This is all very distressing to folks at the National Rifle Association (NRA), who are not dealing well with the blowback. Here’s NRA spokesperson Dana Loeschspeaking today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” Loesch said after walking on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference to a standing ovation. “I’m not saying you love the tragedy, but you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.” […]
Loesch’s absurd comments were merely a warm-up act for NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who later delivered a speech that was heavy on the crazy. […]
We wouldn’t blame anyone for being outraged at the commentary from Loesch and LaPierre today, but our first reaction here was a little different: The NRA is going completely off the rails.
Cassandram at Blue Delaware writes—Delaware Gets a D for Voting:
That’s the verdict in a Center for American Progress report taking a hard look at the security of America’s election systems. We’ve been treated to a great many stories documenting the weakness of our systems — whether it is an inability to verify votes, or aggressive efforts to suppress voting or even the Russians looking for a way into our systems, and this report is pretty timely for all of us who think that we are entitled to a fair and operational election system.
The report looks at these factors –state requirements and practices related to:
- Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
- Voter-verified paper ballots
- Post-election audits that test election results
- Ballot accounting and reconciliation
- Return of voted paper absentee ballots
- Voting machine certification requirements
- Pre-election logic and accuracy testing
Delaware scores an overall D for the state of our election systems. Delaware is one of the five states that does not provide a paper record of votes and does not mandate post-election audits. We have a good deal of detail in this plus on the status of Delaware’s voting machines from Stan Merriman here. This report recognizes that the state has an ongoing process to replace these machines and strongly recommends an upgrade to both security and accountability by going to a system that provides a voter-verified paper trail.
At the Orange Juice Blog of California, Vern Nelson writes—An End to County Chipmunking? Dispatches from Judge Carter’s Riverbed Case:
Doug Pettibone tells me that Federal Judge David O. Carter “is known as the hardest working judge on the bench. Lots of stories. He is known to hold jury trials on weekends. Attorneys can be required to stay to 11:00 pm. In the Vietnam War he was nothing short of heroic, returning under fire to pick up wounded soldiers and carry them to safety … multiple times. The list goes on. Someone should write a biography on him.”
But you’ve already read enough tales in The Register, Voice of OC, and even national news about the gruff, funny and aggressive, take-charge brook-no-bullshit judge who likes to ditch the federal marshals he’s been saddled with (since his perilous rulings against both the Aryan Brotherhoodand Mexican Mafia) to walk the riverbed unannounced at any hour of the day or night, “so it doesn’t look like a parade.”
So I’ll try to skip all those kindsa anecdotes, and first summarize by saying that these lawsuits, brought by liberal advocates and homeless plaintiffs, and HEARD BY THIS PARTICULAR JUDGE, is turning out to be exactly what was needed to prod a useless and callous County government into action it’s avoided for DECADES.
What have we accomplished so far? […]